January 28, 2021

Duckworth Highlights Her Work for People of Illinois During the 116th Congress and the COVID-19 Pandemic


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today released her 116th Congress in Review report, highlighting her work and accomplishments for the people of Illinois throughout the past two years. The new report outlines Duckworth’s efforts to protect Illinoisans throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, hold Donald Trump accountable, support our troops and Veterans, protect civil rights and help our working families.

“I’m proud of the work we’ve done and what we’ve accomplished for the hardworking people of Illinois during the past two years in the Senate, and I’m looking forward to working closely with President Biden and our Democratic majorities in Congress to accomplish even more for our state in the years ahead,” Duckworth said. “As we begin the 117th Congress, I’m eager to help communities all across our state defeat and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly as possible, support the creation of good-paying jobs, protect civil rights, invest in communities that have been ignored for too long, rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, support our servicemembers and make sure we keep the promises we’ve made to our Veterans.”

In the 116th Congress, two of Duckworth’s bills – the Friendly Airports for Mothers Improvement Act and the Route 66 Centennial Commission Act – were signed into law and another two passed the Senate. Duckworth also had a number of her key provisions included in the 2020 and 2021 National Defense Authorization Act and multiple COVID-19 relief packages. During this past Congress, Duckworth served on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works as well as the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. She served as Ranking Member of the Transportation and Safety subcommittee as well as the Fisheries, Water and Wildlife and subcommittee. Duckworth also co-founded the Senate’s first-ever Environmental Justice Caucus in 2019.

During the 116th Congress, Senator Duckworth’s office assisted more than 4,000 Illinoisans experiencing difficulties navigating the federal bureaucracy, dealing with the impacts of COVID-19 or receiving federal benefits they were owed. These efforts helped Illinois families recover approximately $1.5 million they were owed in Social Security payments, Veterans’ benefits, tax refunds and more. With the COVID-19 pandemic changing the way the world communicated, the Office of Senator Duckworth responded to more than 1.1 million emails and other messages in 2020 alone. Over the past two years, Senator Duckworth also helped announce more than $11.6 billion in federal grants awarded to Illinois organizations and governments, including more than $7.7 billion in funding for state and local governments, hospitals and health providers as well as Illinois transit agencies to help to Illinoisans address and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

Some highlights of Duckworth’s accomplishments in the 116th Congress follow, and a full report can be found here.

Helping Illinoisans Through COVID-19 Relief Packages

Senator Duckworth voted to support the bipartisan COVID-19 relief deal passed in December 2020, which came after months of attempts from Democrats to provide substantial relief to struggling Americans were blocked by Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans. Duckworth led and supported a number of initiatives included in the COVID-19 relief and government funding bill, including her bipartisan Relief for Working Families Act that authorizes states to waive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) payments that were improperly provided to residents who acted in good faith and played no role in securing the surplus PUA overpayment, as well as a provision Senator Duckworth led with Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) to block the Trump administration’s harmful effort to eliminate Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at Senior Living Facilities (SLF) in Illinois. Senator Duckworth also led proposals to strengthen the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Microloan Program by providing $57 million to help participants with technical assistance and leveraging approximately $64 million in SBA Microloans to support minority-owned small businesses and other underserved small business interests. Senator Duckworth also helped secure?$250 million in additional emergency funding for Head Start programs, and helped secure $120 million for the U.S. Army Rock Island Arsenal major Army installation that employs more than 6,000 military, civilian and contractor personnel. 

Supporting Nursing Mothers with New Legislation

Building on the success of Senator Duckworth’s FAM Act which became law in 2018, Duckworth’s bipartisan Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Improvement Act was signed into law as well. The FAM Improvement Act will ensure that small airports across the country support nursing mothers and promote breastfeeding-friendly environments by providing accessible, clean and convenient lactation rooms for travelers. The Senate also unanimously passed Senator Duckworth’s bipartisan Fairness for Breastfeeding Mothers Act to help ensure new parents have access to clean and private lactation rooms when visiting federal buildings around the nation.

Honoring the Legacy of Illinois’s Route 66

Senator Duckworth’s Route 66 Centennial Commission Act was signed into law and will establish a centennial commission in preparation for the 100th anniversary of Route 66, which begins in Chicago and continues through six other states before ending on the Pacific Coast of California.

Protecting, Supporting and Strengthening our Troops with Key NDAA Provisions

Senator Duckworth successfully secured a number of her priorities in the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and 2021 NDAA. Key Duckworth provisions included in the FY2020 NDAA help protect servicemembers from lead poisoning and ensure the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is complying with federal standards in military housing, encourage DoD to help noncitizen servicemembers and Veterans become citizens, extend the Rock Island Arsenal’s lease and provide $75 million for the Arsenal’s Defense Community Infrastructure Program as well as prepare the next generation of American workers to work at our National Laboratories and the National Nuclear Security Administration. In the FY2021 NDAA, key Duckworth provisions included bolstering transportation infrastructure and logistics systems, accelerating rotary wing modernization efforts, investing more DoD resources into emerging regions like Southeast Asia and making sure our female servicemembers are properly equipped for combat.

Founding the U.S. Senate’s First-Ever Environmental Justice Caucus

Senator Duckworth, along with Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tom Carper (D-DE), founded the Senate’s first-ever Environmental Justice Caucus to call attention to the many environmental justice issues affecting our nation and its people. Since its creation, the Caucus has worked to raise awareness of the many environmental and pollution issues creating public health challenges that disproportionately impact low income communities and communities of color. In addition, the Caucus aims to help those communities advocate for themselves with the Federal Government by providing expertise and assistance, generating legislation and organizing Congressional hearings and other events.

Calling Attention to Trump’s Silence on Bountygate

After reports that Donald Trump knew for months that Russia secretly offered bounties to militants for the killing of American troops, but did nothing to protect these troops, Senator Duckworth frequently called attention to Trump’s continued silence and condemned Trump’s actions in a speech on the Senate floor. Duckworth also called for a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the reports, demanded an opportunity to review any relevant daily briefings related to the reports and helped introduce the Russia Bounty Response Act of 2020 to impose sanctions on anyone involved in the program.

Fighting for Deported Veterans

One year after the Trump Administration’s needless and cruel deportation of Operation Enduring Freedom Veteran Miguel Perez, Jr., Senator Duckworth reintroduced her Veterans Visa and Protection Act, the Healthcare Opportunities for Patriots in Exile (HOPE) Act and the Immigrant Veterans Eligibility Tracking System (I-VETS) Act to protect and support Veterans and servicemembers. These proposed bills would prohibit the deportation of Veterans who are not violent offenders, give legal permanent residents a path to citizenship through military service and strengthen U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare services for Veterans. Duckworth also lead a bipartisan request to the U.S. Government Accountability Office to review the military naturalization process. Duckworth was able to finally meet Perez when he was allowed back into the United States before he was finally granted U.S. citizenship. On Veterans Day in 2019, Duckworth joined Perez in Tijuana, Mexico, to meet with other deported Veterans, honoring the service of these Veterans and offering supportive services to them in their efforts to access the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare benefits they’ve earned and other casework issues. Duckworth also advocated for U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Roman Sabal, who was denied entry into the country to attend his own citizenship hearing, but was finally granted citizenship in October 2020.

Duckworth’s full 116th Congress in Review report can be found here.